top places in san francisco

Golden Gate Bridge Journeys: Overhead, Underneath, and Around

Beyond just a means of transportation from San Francisco to Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge offers much more. It’s an icon of architectural beauty, an engineering marvel, and a beloved landmark that draws visitors from all over the world.

Let’s explore the many ways to experience this magnificent structure from above, below, and all around. Along the way, we’ll also highlight the top 10 places in san francisco, making your journey even more enriching.

Overhead: Aerial Views and Experiences

Helicopter Tours

Seeing the view of golden gate bridge from the sky is an unforgettable experience. Helicopter tours offer a bird’s-eye view that highlights the bridge’s grandeur and the stunning landscape of the San Francisco Bay area.

  • Popular Companies: Several companies, like San Francisco Helicopters and Seaplane Adventures, provide aerial tours. They offer various packages ranging from quick 20-minute flights to extended tours that include other landmarks.
  • Pricing and Booking: Prices typically range from $200 to $500 per person, depending on the duration and specific tour. It is recommended to make reservations well in advance, particularly during the busiest travel seasons.
  • Highlights: Tours usually cover the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the city skyline, giving you a comprehensive aerial perspective.

Drone Photography

Drone Photography

For photography enthusiasts, drones offer a unique way to capture the Golden Gate Bridge. However, it’s important to follow local regulations to ensure safety and legality.

  • Best Spots: Battery Spencer and Fort Baker on the Marin side and Crissy Field and Baker Beach on the San Francisco side are excellent locations for launching a drone.
  • Regulations: The FAA requires drone operators to follow specific rules, including flying below 400 feet and avoiding restricted areas. Permits may be required for commercial use.
  • Photography Tips: Early mornings and late afternoons provide the best lighting. Use a polarizing filter to manage reflections and enhance the colors of the bridge and water.

Viewpoints and Lookouts

There are several great spots to take in the Golden Gate Bridge from above, offering spectacular views and photo opportunities.

  • Twin Peaks: The Golden Gate Bridge and the entire city are visible from one of San Francisco’s highest points.
  • Marin Headlands: Located across the bridge, this area provides some of the best vantage points. Hawk Hill and Battery Spencer are particularly popular.
  • Hawk Hill: This lookout is not only great for viewing the bridge but also for spotting migrating birds of prey, especially during fall.

Underneath: Exploring Below the Bridge

Boat Tours and Cruises

Exploring the Golden Gate Bridge from the water provides a different perspective that highlights its immense scale and intricate design.

  • Tour Options: There are various types of boat tours available, including sunset cruises, historical tours, and wildlife viewing trips. Companies like Red and White Fleet and Blue & Gold Fleet are popular choices.
  • Pricing: Most tours cost between $30 and $60 per person. Sunset cruises and special tours may be more expensive.
  • Best Times: Sunset and early morning tours often offer the best views, with the bridge illuminated in soft light. Whale-watching tours are typically best in spring and fall.

Kayaking Adventures

Kayaking beneath the Golden Gate Bridge is an exciting experience for individuals who value an active lifestyle.

  • Routes: Start from locations like Horseshoe Cove in Sausalito or Crissy Field in San Francisco. Paddle towards the bridge, keeping an eye out for currents and boat traffic.
  • Safety Tips: Wear a life jacket at all times, and check the weather before you go. If you are not a skilled kayaker, it is recommended that you take a guided trip.
  • Rental Companies: Sea Trek in Sausalito and City Kayak in San Francisco offer rentals and guided tours.

Fishing Spots

Fishing Spots - goldenbridge

Fishing around the Golden Gate Bridge can be rewarding, with various species available depending on the season.

  • Best Locations: Popular spots include Fort Point, Pier 7, and Baker Beach.
  • Permits and Regulations: A fishing license is required for anyone over the age of 16. Be sure to check local regulations for specific rules and limits.
  • Common Catches: Species like striped bass, salmon, and halibut are commonly caught in these waters.

Around: Exploring Surrounding Areas

Golden Gate Park

With a variety of attractions and activities, Golden Gate Park is a must-visit location in San Francisco.

  • Major Attractions: The California Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the de Young Museum are not to be missed. Each offers unique experiences, from art and history to science and tranquility.
  • Recreational Activities: The park has numerous trails for walking and biking. Stow Lake is perfect for paddle boating, and the Bison Paddock is a unique spot to see American bison.
  • Family-Friendly Spots: The Koret Children’s Quarter and Playground is a great place for kids, with a historic carousel and plenty of play areas.

Presidio of San Francisco

The Presidio is a national park with historical sites and outdoor activities that was formerly a military installation.

  • Historical Significance: Visit the Presidio Officers’ Club to learn about the area’s history. The San Francisco National Cemetery is another significant site.
  • Hiking and Biking Trails: The Presidio boasts numerous trails, such as the Batteries to Bluffs Trail, which offers stunning coastal views. The Golden Gate Promenade is perfect for biking.
  • Picnic Areas and Scenic Spots: Crissy Field is a popular spot for picnics, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and ample space for relaxation.


Just across the bridge, Sausalito is a charming town with plenty to offer.

  • Attractions: Visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum for family fun or stroll along the Sausalito waterfront.
  • Top Restaurants: Enjoy seafood at Scoma’s of Sausalito or a casual meal at Bar Bocce.
  • Shopping and Art Galleries: The town is known for its boutique shops and numerous art galleries, perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

Baker Beach and Lands End

These coastal spots offer beautiful views and outdoor activities.

  • Baker Beach: This beach provides stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and is a great spot for sunbathing and picnics. Note that the northern end is clothing-optional.
  • Lands End: Explore the scenic trails, such as the Coastal Trail, which offers dramatic views of the coastline and the bridge. The Lands End Lookout visitor center provides historical context and information.

Crissy Field

Crissy Field is a former airfield turned park offering a variety of recreational opportunities.

  • Outdoor Activities: Popular for windsurfing, beach volleyball, and kite flying. The Crissy Field East Beach is great for swimming and picnicking.
  • Picnic Spots: The West Bluffs Picnic Area offers BBQ grills and tables with views of the bridge.
  • Historical Sites: The Crissy Field Center offers educational exhibits and programs about the area’s history and environment.

Tips for Visitors

Golden Gate Bridge Journeys

Best Times to Visit

Timing your visit can enhance your experience of the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounding areas.

  • Seasonal Considerations: With their mild temperatures and lower tourist numbers, spring and fall are frequently the greatest seasons to visit. Summer can be foggy, but it’s also a popular time for visitors.
  • Weather Patterns: San Francisco’s weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers to accommodate changes, especially the cool, breezy conditions often found near the bridge.

Transportation Options

There are several ways to get to and from the Golden Gate Bridge area, making travel there comparatively simple.

  • Public Transport: Muni buses and Golden Gate Transit buses serve the area. Routes 28 and 76X are particularly useful for reaching the bridge.
  • Parking: Parking is available at the Welcome Center and along various viewpoints, but it can fill up quickly. Consider arriving early or using public transport.
  • Biking: Renting a bike is a popular way to explore the area. There are several rental shops in Fisherman’s Wharf and around the city. Bike the Bridge offers guided tours.

Safety and Accessibility

Ensuring a safe and accessible visit is important for everyone.

  • Safety Tips: Be mindful of strong winds and fast-moving traffic on the bridge. Stay on designated paths and follow local guidelines.
  • Accessibility Features: The Golden Gate Bridge and many surrounding areas are accessible to visitors with disabilities. The Welcome Center offers information on accessible paths and facilities.
  • Important Contacts: Have emergency contact numbers handy, such as the local police (911) and the Golden Gate Bridge District (415-921-5858) for non-emergencies.


The Golden Gate Bridge offers a variety of experiences that are sure to leave lasting memories. Whether you’re admiring it from above in a helicopter, paddling beneath it in a kayak, or exploring the surrounding parks and trails, there’s something for everyone. Do you also want to know, what to do in San Francisco without a car? Visit Pristine Traveller Tales now!

Don’t miss the chance to see this iconic landmark from every angle and enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer along the way.